The signs of domestic violence and its victims are not always visible. But an initiative at N.C. Central University aims to bring attention to this issue in an intentionally visual way.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, during which thousands of organizations across the nation take a stand to raise awareness and let victims of domestic violence know that they have a voice.
To kick off Purple Week, NCCU Women’s Center hosted an event Sept. 15 at Baynes Residence Hall to educate students about sexual violence in the age of social media. During Purple Week, people are encouraged to wear purple to support victims of domestic violence.
The event was co-sponsored by other NCCU organizations including Engaging Mentors to Empower Respect and Gender Equality (EMERGE) and Men Creating Change.
Students heard about the Revenge Porn law through interactive scenarios and discussed what was defined as domestic violence and sexual violence.
Women’s Center Prevention and Education coordinator Nicole Wiley and Student Affairs technology support specialist Joseph Davis led the discussion.
“I think here at NCCU, we need to say ‘it’s not happening here,’” Wiley said. “It may happen in other places, but we’re not going to let each other become victims. I can talk about it all day, but who needs to talk about it are the people in this room.”
The Women’s Center held a similar event last spring during Sexual Assault Awareness Week, but this time shifted students’ attention to a new project on campus set to begin soon.
The Women’s Center revealed its Vision Wall, which is a visual attempt to raise awareness about sexual violence.
The Vision Wall asks the question:
“What would a world without sexual violence look like?”
Students answer that question individually, posting sticky notes on the wall.
The wall is an initiative created by We Are Here N.C. – Ending Sexual Violence, a movement created by Duke University students seeking to end sexual violence on college campuses.
Over the summer, UNC-Chapel Hill asked NCCU to join the initiative. NCCU is the first and only HBCU participating in the campaign.
“I think the Vision Wall is important because rape culture is real and sometimes it can be ignored,” said EMERGE President Zakiya Logan. “As a campus, we are a family and we should want to protect our family and be as one. If I can teach my family about things that go on our campus ahead of time, I am preventing them of any harm.”
Before Wiley let the students write sticky notes for the wall, she said her goal is to have it covered in notes and for students to ask themselves ‘what would NCCU look like without sexual violence?’
By the end of the event, students had covered the wall with thought provoking notes.
One note said the world would be “a utopia in the making where change and people of any gender can be accepted.” Another note said it “would be a better place for parents to raise their children.”
The Vision Wall was first placed in the Women’s Center. It moved to the LeRoy T. Walker Physical Education and Recreation Complex earlier this week.
“The vision wall is something different, something the campus has never seen before,” Logan added.
The Women’s Center will hold a public reading of the wall after its event “A Mile in Her Shoes,” next Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in the Alfonso Elder Student Union.
Purple Week lasts from Sept. 26 through Oct. 2. Nationally, Domestic Violence Awareness Month begins on Oct. 1.